Southern California -- this just in

« Previous Post | L.A. NOW Home | Next Post »

Man who fatally shot rapper at the Beverly Center uses violent lyrics as a defense in murder trial

May 21, 2010 | 12:25 pm

The lyrics of a rapper slain at the Beverly Center last year has taken center stage in the trial of the man accused of killing him.

As an up-and-coming rapper, Dolla glorified the gang lifestyle, bragging about carrying a pistol and his ability to use it.

"You be running when I shoot, I be shooting where you running," he rapped in his debut single released in 2008.

A year later, the rapper, whose real name is Roderick Burton, was shot as he allegedly ran from a gunman inside the Beverly Center's parking garage. He was struck four times, three in the back.

With the murder trial of his admitted shooter wrapping up this week, jurors must wrestle with two conflicting portraits of Burton: thug or entertainer.

The defense attorney has drawn, in part, on the rapper's lyrics and Internet videos with alleged gang members to portray Burton as a violent gang member who was attacking his client. But prosecutors argue that Burton's gang ties are irrelevant and that his music was simply entertainment in a culture in which violence sells.

"What an artist does and what an artist creates does not reflect on reality," Deputy Dist. Atty. Halim Dhanidina told jurors as he flashed violent lyrics sung by John Lennon and other music icons on a projector screen. "The defense is trying to inflame you."

Read Times staff writer Jack Leonard's full story here. Above, Leonard and Times law enforcement editor Matt Lait discuss the case.

-- Los Angeles Times